The Life, Public Services and State Papers of Abraham Lincoln

By Henry J. Raymond

Chapter 4



ABRAHAM LINCOLN was elected to "be President of the United States on the sixth day of November, 1860. The preliminary canvass had not been marked by any very extraordinary features. Party lines were a good deal broken up, and four presidential candidates were in the field; but this departure from the ordinary course of party contests had occurred more than once in the previous political history of the country. Mr. Lincoln was put in nomination by the Republican party, and represented in his life and opinions the precise aim and object for which that party had been formed. He was a native of a slaveholding State; and while he had been opposed to slavery, he had regarded it as a local institution, the creature of local laws, with which the National Government of the United States had nothing whatever to do. But, in common with all observant public men, he had watched with distrust and apprehension the advance of slavery, as an element of political power, towards ascendency in the Government of the nation, and had cordially co-operated with those who thought it absolutely necessary for the future well-being of the country that this advance should be checked. He had, therefore, opposed very strenuously the extension of slavery into the Territories, and had asserted the right and the duty of Congress to exclude it by positive legislation there from.

The Chicago Convention, which nominated Mr. Lincoln, adopted a platform of which this was the cardinal feature; but it also took good care to repel the imputation of its political opponents, and to remove the apprehensions of the South, that the party proposed to interfere with slavery in the States whose laws gave it support and protection. It expressly disavowed all authority and all wish for such interference, and declared its purpose to protect the Southern States in the free enjoyment of all their constitutional rights. The Democratic Convention, originally assembled at Charleston, was disposed to make Mr. Douglas its candidate in opposition to Mr. Lincoln; but this purpose was thwarted by leading politicians of the slaveholding States, who procured the nomination of Mr. Breckinridge, with full knowledge of the fact that this would divide the Democratic party, and in all probability secure the election of Mr. Lincoln. Mr. Breckinridge represented the pro-slavery element of the Democratic party, and asserted the duty of the National Government, by a positive exercise of its legislative and executive power, to protect slavery in the Territories against any legislation either of Congress or of the people of the Territories themselves, which should seek to impair in any degree the right, alleged to be recognized in the Constitution, of property in slaves. Mr. Douglas supported the theory that the people of the Territories, acting through their territorial legislature, had the same right to decide this question for themselves as they had to decide any other; and he represented this principle in opposition to Mr. Lincoln on the one hand, and Mr. Breckinridge on the other, in the presidential canvass. John Bell, of Tennessee, was also made a candidate by the action mainly of men who were dissatisfied with all the existing political parties, and who were alarmed at the probable results of a presidential election which promised to be substantially sectional in its character. They put forth, therefore, no opinions upon the leading points in controversy; and went into the canvass with "the Constitution, the Union, and the enforcement of the laws" as their platform, one upon which they could easily have rallied all the people of all sections of the country, but for the fact, which they seemed to overlook, that the widest possible differences of opinion prevailed among the people as to its meaning.

All sections of the country took part in the election. The Southern States were quite as active and quite as zealous as the Northern in carrying on the canvass. Public meetings were held, the newspaper press, South as well as North, discussed the issues involved with energy and vigor, and every thing on the surface indicated the usual termination of the contest, the triumph of one party and the peaceful acquiescence of all others. The result, however, showed that this was a mistake. The active and controlling politicians of the Southern States had gone into the canvass with the distinct and well-formed purpose of acquiescing in the result only in the event of its giving them the victory. The election took place on the 6th of November. Mr. Lincoln received the electoral votes of all the Free States except New Jersey, which was divided, giving him four votes and Mr. Douglas three. Mr. Breckinridge received the electoral votes of all the Slave States except Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, which voted for Bell, and Missouri, which voted for Douglas, as did three electors from New Jersey also. Of the popular vote, Lincoln received 1,857,610; Douglas, 1,365,976; Breckinridge, 847,953; and Bell, 590,631. In the Electoral College, Lincoln received 180 votes, Douglas 12, Breckinridge 72, and Bell 39.

As soon as the result of the election was known, various movements in the Southern States indicated their purpose of resistance; and it soon became evident that this purpose had been long cherished- and that members of the Government under the presidency of Mr. Buchanan had officially given it their sanction and aid. On the 29th of October, General Scott sent to the President and John B. Floyd, his Secretary of War, a letter expressing apprehensions lest the Southern people should seize some of the Federal forts in the Southern States, and advising that they should be immediately garrisoned by way of precaution. The Secretary of War, according to statements subsequently made by one of his eulogists in Virginia, "thwarted, objected, resisted, and forbade" the adoption of those measures, which, according to the same authority, if carried into execution, would have defeated the conspiracy, and rendered impossible the formation of a Southern Confederacy. An official report from the Ordnance Department, dated January 16, 1861, also shows that during the year 1860, and previous to the presidential election, one hundred and fifteen thousand muskets had been removed from Northern armories and sent to Southern arsenals by a single order of the Secretary of War, issued on the 30th of December, 1859. On the 20th of November, the Attorney General, Hon. John S. Black, in reply to inquiries of the President, gave him the official opinion that Congress had no right to carry on war against any State, either to prevent a threatened violation of the Constitution or to enforce an acknowledgment that the Government of the United States is supreme: and it soon became evident that the President adopted this theory as the basis and guide of his executive action.

South Carolina took the lead in the secession movement. Her legislature assembled on the 4th of November, 1860, and, after casting the electoral vote of the State for John C. Breckinridge to be President of the United States, passed an act the next day calling a State Convention, to meet at Columbia on the 17th of December. On the 10th, F. W. Pickens was elected Governor, and, in his inaugural, declared the determination of the State to secede, on the ground that, ' ' in the recent election for President and Vice-President, the North had carried the election upon principles that make it no longer safe for us to rely upon the powers of the Federal Government or the guarantees of the Federal compact. This," he added, "is the great overt act of the people of the Northern States, who propose to inaugurate a chief magistrate not to preside over the common interests or destinies of all States alike, but upon issues of malignant hostility and uncompromising war to be waged upon the rights, the interests, and the peace of half of the States of this Union." The Convention met on the 17th of December, and adjourned the next day to Charleston, on account of the prevalence of smallpox at Columbia. On the 20th an ordinance was passed unanimously repealing the ordinance adopted May 23, 1788, whereby the Constitution of the United States was ratified, and " dissolving the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States under the name of the United States of America;" and on the 24th the Governor issued his proclamation, declaring the State of South Carolina to be a "separate, sovereign, free, and independent State."

This was the first act of secession passed by any State. The debates in the State Convention show clearly enough that it was not taken under the impulse of resentment for any sharp and remediless wrong, nor in apprehension that any such wrong would be inflicted; but in pursuance of a settled and long-cherished purpose. In that debate Mr. Parker said that the movement was "no spasmodic effort it had been gradually culminating for a long series of years." Mr. Inglis indorsed this remark, and added, "Most of us have had this matter under consideration for the last twenty years." Mr. L. M. Keitt said, "I have been engaged in this movement ever since I entered political life." And Mr. Rhett, who had been for many years in the public service, declared that "the secession of South Carolina was not the event of a day. It is not," said he, ' ' any thing produced by Mr. Lincoln' s election, or by the non-execution of the fugitive slave law. It is a matter which has been gathering head for thirty years. The election of Lincoln and Hamlin was the last straw on the back of the camel. But it was not the only one. The back was nearly broken before." So far as South Carolina was concerned, there can be no doubt that her action was decided by men who had been plotting disunion for thirty years, not on account of any wrongs her people had sustained at the hands of the Federal Government, but from motives of personal and sectional ambition, and for the purpose of establishing a government which should be permanently and completely in the interest of slavery.

But the disclosures which have since been made, imperfect comparatively as they are, prove clearly that the whole secession movement was in the hands of a few conspirators, who had their head-quarters at the national capital, and were themselves closely connected with the Government of the United States. A secret meeting of these men was held at Washington on the night of the 5th of January, 1861, at which the Senators from Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, and Florida were present. They decided, by resolutions, that each of the Southern States should secede from the Union as soon as possible; that a convention of seceding States should be held at Montgomery, Alabama, not later than the 15th of February; and that the Senators and Members of Congress from the Southern States ought to remain in their seats as long as possible, in order to defeat measures that might be proposed at Washington hostile to the secession movement. Davis of Mississippi, Slidell of Louisiana, and Mallory of Florida, were appointed a committee to carry these decisions into effect; and, in pursuance of them, Mississippi passed an ordinance of secession January 9th; Alabama and Florida, January 11th; Louisiana, January 26th, and Texas, February 5th. All these acts, as well as all which followed, were simply the execution of the behests of this secret conclave of conspirators who had resolved upon secession. In all the conventions of the seceding States, delegates were appointed to meet at Montgomery. In not one of them was the question of secession submitted to a vote of the people; although in some of them the legislatures had expressly forbidden them to pass any ordinance of secession without making its validity depend on its ratification by the popular vote. The Convention met at Montgomery on the 4th of February, and adopted a provisional constitution, to continue in operation for one year. Under this constitution Jefferson Davis was elected President of the new Confederacy, and Alex. H. Stephens, of Georgia, Vice-President. Both were inaugurated on the 18th. In an address delivered on his arrival at Montgomery, Mr. Davis declared that "the time for compromise has now passed, and the South is determined to maintain her position, and make all who oppose her smell Southern powder and feel Southern steel, if coercion is persisted in." He felt sure of the result; it might be they would "have to encounter inconveniences at the beginning," but he had no doubts of the final issue. The first part of his anticipation has been fully realized; the end has hardly proved to be as peaceful and satisfactory as he predicted.

The policy of the new Confederacy towards the United States was soon officially made known. The government decided to maintain the status quo until the expiration of Mr. Buchanan's term, feeling assured that, with his declared belief that it would be unconstitutional to coerce a State, they need apprehend from his administration no active hostility to their designs. They had some hope that, by the 4th of March, their new Confederacy would be so far advanced that the new Administration might waive its purpose of coercion; and they deemed it wise not to do any thing which should rashly forfeit the favor and support of "that very large portion of the North whose moral sense was on their side." Nevertheless, they entered upon prompt and active preparations for war. Contracts were made in various parts of the South for the manufacture of powder, shell, cannon-balls, and other munitions of war. Recruiting was set on foot in several of the States. A plan was adopted for the organization of a regular army of the Confederacy, and on the 6th of March Congress passed an act authorizing a military force of one hundred thousand men.

Thus was opened a new chapter in the history of America. Thus were taken the first steps towards overthrowing the Government and Constitution of the United States, and establishing a new nation, with a new Constitution, resting upon new principles, and aiming at new results The Constitution of the United States was ordained " in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity." We have the clear and explicit testimony of A. H. Stephens, the Vice President of the rebel Confederacy, echoing and reaffirming that of the whole civilized world to the fact, that these high and noble objects the noblest and the grandest at which human institutions can aim have been more nearly attained in the practical working of the Government of the United States than anywhere else on the face of the earth. "I look upon this country, with our institutions," said Mr. Stephens before the legislature of Georgia, on the 14th of November, 1860, after the result of the presidential election was known, " as the Eden of the world, the paradise 'of the universe. It may be that out of it we may become greater and more prosperous, but I am candid and sincere in telling you that I fear, if we rashly evince passion, and without sufficient cause shall take that step, that instead of becoming greater, or more peaceful, prosperous, and happy instead of becoming gods we will become demons, and at no distant day commence cutting each other's throats." Mr. Stephens on that occasion went on, in a strain of high patriotism and common sense, to speak of the proposed secession of the State of Georgia, in language which will forever stand as a judicial condemnation of the action of the rebel States. ' ' The first question that presents itself, ' ' said Mr. Stephens, "is, shall the people of the South secede from the Union in consequence of the election of Mr. Lincoln to the Presidency of the United States? My countrymen, I tell you candidly, frankly, and earnestly, that I do not think that they ought. In my judgment the election of no man, constitutionally chosen to that high office, is sufficient cause for any State to separate from the Union. It ought to stand by and aid still in maintaining the Constitution of the country. To make a point of resistance to the government, to withdraw from it because a man has been constitutionally elected, puts us in the wrong. * * We went into the election with this people. The result was different from what we wished; but the election has been constitutionally held. Were we to make a point of resistance to the Government, and go out of the Union on this account, the record would be made up hereafter against us."

After the new confederacy had been organized, and Mr. Stephens had been elected its Vice-President, he made an elaborate speech to the citizens of Savannah, in which he endeavored to vindicate this attempt to establish a new government in place of the government of the United States, and to set forth the new principles upon which it was to rest, and which were to justify the movement in the eyes of the world and of impartial posterity. That exposition is too important to be omitted here. It is the most authoritative and explicit statement of the character and objects of the new government which has ever been made. Mr. Stephens said:

"The new constitution has put at rest forever all agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions African slavery, as it exists among us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the 'rock upon which the old Union would split.' He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him, and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution, were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away. This idea, though not incorporated in the Constitution, was the prevailing idea at the time. The Constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly used against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamental!} wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the idea of a government built upon it was wrong when the ' storm came and the wind blew, it fell.'

"Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It is even so amongst us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well that this truth was not generally admitted even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North who still cling to these errors with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind; from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics; their conclusions are right if their premises are. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just; but their premises being wrong, their whole argument fails. I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the Northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with imposing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery; that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics; that the principle would ultimately prevail; that we, in maintaining^ slavery as it exists with us, were warring against a principle a principle founded in nature, the principle of the equality of man. The reply I made to him was, that upon his own grounds we should succeed, and that he and his associates in their crusade against, our institutions would ultimately fail. The truth announced, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics as it was in physics or mechanics, I admitted, but told him that it was he and those acting with him who were warring against a principle. They were attempting. to make things equal which the Creator had made unequal.

"In the conflict thus far, success has been on our side, complete throughout the length and breadth of the Confederate States. It is upon this, as I have stated, our social fabric is firmly planted; and I cannot permit myself to doubt the ultimate success of a full recognition of this principle throughout the civilized and enlightened world."

We have thus traced the course of events in the Southern States during the three months that succeeded the election of President Lincoln. Let us now see what took place in Washington during the same time. Congress met on the 3d of December, and the Message of President Buchanan was at once sent in. That document ascribed the discontent of the Southern States to the alleged fact that the violent agitation in the North against slavery had created disaffection among the slaves, and created apprehensions of servile insurrection. The President vindicated the hostile action of the South, assuming that it was prompted by these apprehensions; but went on to show that there was no right on the part of any State to secede from the Union, while at the same time he contended that the General Government had no right to make war on any State for the purpose of preventing it from seceding, and closed this portion of his Message by recommending an amendment of the Constitution which should explicitly recognize the right of property in slaves, and provide for the protection of that right in all the Territories of the United States. The belief that the people of South Carolina would make an attempt to seize one or more of the forts in the harbor of Charleston, created considerable uneasiness at Washington; and on the 9th of December the representatives from that State wrote to the President expressing their "strong convictions" that no such attempt would be made previous to the action of the State Convention, "provided that no re-enforcements should be sent into those forts, and their relative military status shall remain as at present." On the 10th of December Howell Cobb resigned his office as Secretary of the Treasury, and on the 14th General Cass resigned as Secretary of State. The latter resigned because the President refused to re-enforce the forts in the harbor of Charleston. On the 20th the State of South Carolina passed the ordinance of secession, and on the 26th Major Anderson transferred his garrison from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sum ter. On the 29th John B. Floyd resigned his office as Secretary of War, alleging that the action of Major Anderson was in violation of pledges given by the Government that the military status of the forts at Charleston should remain unchanged, and that the President had declined to allow him to issue an order, for which he had applied on the 27th, to withdraw the garrison from the harbor of Charleston. On the 29th of December, Messrs. Barnwell, Adams, and Orr arrived at Washington, as commissioners from the State of South Carolina, and at once opened a correspondence with President Buchanan, asking for the delivery of the forts and other government property at Charleston to the authorities of South Carolina. The President replied on the 30th, reviewing the whole question stating that in removing from Fort Moultrie, Major Anderson acted solely on his own responsibility, and that his first impulse on hearing of it was to order him to return, but that the occupation of the fort by South Carolina and the seizure of the arsenal at Charleston had rendered this impossible. The commissioners replied on the 1st of January, 1861, insisting that the President had pledged himself to maintain the status of affairs in Charleston harbor previous to the removal of Major Anderson from Fort Moultrie, and calling on him to redeem this pledge. This communication the President returned.

On the 8th of January, the President sent a message to Congress, calling their attention to the condition of public affairs, declaring that while he had no right to make aggressive war upon any State, it was his right and his duty to "use military force defensively against those who resist the Federal officers in the execution of their legal functions, and against those who assail the property of the Federal Government;"--but throwing the whole responsibility of meeting the extraordinary emergencies of the occasion upon Congress. On the same day, Jacob Thompson, of Mississippi, resigned his office as Secretary of the Interior, because the Star of the West had been sent on the 5th, by order of the Government, with supplies for Fort Sumter, in violation, as he alleged, of the decision of the cabinet. On the 10th, P. F. Thomas, of Maryland, who had replaced Howell Cobb as Secretary of the Treasury, resigned, and was succeeded by General John A Dix, of New York.

The debates and the action of Congress throughout the session related mainly to the questions at issue between the two sections. The. discussion opened on the 3d of December, as soon as the President' s Message had been read. The Southern Senators generally treated the election of the previous November as having been a virtual decision against the equality and rights of the slaveholding States. The Republican members disavowed this construction, and proclaimed their willingness to adopt any just and proper measures which would quiet the apprehensions of the South, while they insisted that the authority of the Constitution should be maintained, and the constitutional election of a President should be respected. At the opening of the session, Mr. Powell, of Kentucky, in the Senate, moved the reference of that portion of the President's Message which related to the sectional difficulties of the country, to a select committee of thirteen. This resolution being adopted, Mr. Crittenden immediately afterwards introduced a series of joint resolutions, embodying what came to be known afterwards as the Crittenden Compromise proposing to submit to the action of the people of the several States the following amendments to the Constitution:

1. Prohibiting slavery in all the territory of the United States north of 36 30', and protecting it as property in all territory south of that line; and admitting into the Union, with or without slavery, as its Constitution might provide, any State that might be formed out of such territory, whenever its population should be sufficient to entitle it to a member of Congress.

2. Prohibiting Congress from abolishing slavery in places under its exclusive jurisdiction within Slave States.

3. Prohibiting Congress from abolishing slavery within the District of Columbia, so long as slavery should exist in Virginia or Maryland; or without the consent of the inhabitants, or without just compensation. to the owners.

4. Prohibiting Congress from hindering the transportation of slaves from one State to another, or to a Territory in which slavery is allowed.

5. Providing that where a fugitive slave is lost to his owner by violent resistance to the execution of the process of the law for his recovery, the United States shall pay to said owner his full value, and may recover the same from the county in which such rescue occurred.

6. These provisions were declared to be unchangeable by any future amendment of the Constitution, as were also the existing articles relating to the representation of slaves and the surrender of fugitives.

Besides these proposed amendments of the Constitution, Mr. Crittenden's resolutions embodied certain declarations in affirmance of the constitutionality and "binding force of the fugitive slave law recommending the repeal by the States of all bills, the effect of which was to hinder the execution of that law, proposing to amend it by equalizing its fees, and urging the effectual execution of the law for the suppression of the African slave-trade.

These resolutions were referred to the Committee of Thirteen, ordered on Mr. Powell's motion, and composed of the following senators:

Messrs. Powell, Hunter, Crittenden, Seward, Toombs, Douglas, Collamer, Davis, Wade, Bigler, Rice, Doolittle, and Grimes.

On the 31st of December, this committee reported that they " had riot been able to agree upon any general plan of adjustment." The whole subject was nevertheless discussed over and over again during the residue of the session; but no final action was taken until the very day of its close. On the 21st of January, Messrs. Yulee and Mallory, of Florida, resigned their seats in the Senate, because their State had passed an ordinance of secession; and on the 28th, Mr. Iverson, of Georgia, followed their example. Messrs. Clay and Fitzpatrick, of Alabama, and Mr. Davis, of Mississippi, followed next, and, on the 4th of February, Messrs. Slidell and Benjamin, of Louisiana, also took their leave.

In the House of Representatives the debates took the same general direction as in the Senate. On the first day of the session a resolution was adopted, by a vote of one hundred and forty-five to thirty-eight, to refer so much of the President' s Message as related to the perilous condition of the country, to a committee of one from each State. This committee was appointed as follows:

Corwin of Ohio.
Millson of Virginia.
Adams of Massachusetts.
Winslow of North Carolina.
Humphrey of New York.
Boyce of South Carolina.
Campbell of Pennsylvania.
Love of Georgia.
Ferry of Connecticut.
Davis of Maryland.
Robinson of Rhode Island.
Whitely of Delaware.
Tappan of New Hampshire.
Stratton of New Jersey.
Bristow of Kentucky.
Morrill of Vermont.
Nelson of Tennessee.
Dunn of Indiana.
Taylor of Louisiana.
Davis of Mississippi.
Kellogg of Illinois.
Houston of Alabama.
Morse of Maine.
Phelps of Missouri.
Rust of Arkansas.
Howard of Michigan.
Hawkins of Florida.
Hamilton of Texas.
Washburn of Wisconsin.
Curtis of Iowa.
Birch of California.
Windom of Minnesota.
Stark of Oregon.

A great variety of resolutions were offered and referred to this committee. In a few days the committee reported the following series of resolutions, and recommended their adoption:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all attempts on the parts of the legislatures of any of the States to obstruct or hinder the recovery and surrender of fugitives from service or labor, are in derogation of the Constitution of the United States, inconsistent with the comity and good neighborhood that should prevail among the several States, and dangerous to the peace of the Union.

Resolved, That the several States be respectfully requested to cause their statutes to be revised, with a view to ascertain if any of them are in conflict with, or tend to embarrass or hinder the execution of, the laws of the United States, made in pursuance of the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution of the United States, for the delivering up of persons held to labor by the laws of any State and escaping there from; and the Senate and House of Representatives earnestly request that all enactments having such tendency be forthwith repealed, as required by a just sense of constitutional obligations, and by a due regard for the peace of the Republic; and the President of the United States is requested to communicate these resolutions to the governors of the several States, with a request that they will lay the same before the legislatures thereof, respectively.

Resolved, That we recognize slavery as now existing in fifteen of the United States by the usages and laws of those States; and we recognize no authority, legally or otherwise, outside of a State where it so exists, to interfere with slaves or slavery in such States, in disregard of the rights of their owners or the peace of society.

Resolved, That we recognize the justice and propriety of a faithful execution of the Constitution, and laws made in pursuance thereof, on the subject of fugitive slaves, or fugitives from service or labor, and discountenance all mobs or hindrances to the execution of such laws, and that citizens of each State shall be entitled to all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.

Resolved, That we recognize no such conflicting elements in its composition, or sufficient cause from any source, for a dissolution of this Government; that we were not sent here to destroy, but to sustain and harmonize the institutions of the country, and to see that equal justice is done to all parts of the same; and, finally, to perpetuate its existence on terms of equality and justice to all the States.

Resolved, That a faithful observance, on the part of all the States, of all their constitutional obligations to each other and to the Federal Government, is essential to the peace of the country.

Resolved, That it is the duty of the Federal Government to enforce the Federal laws, protect the Federal property, and preserve the Union of these States.

Resolved, That each State be requested to revise its statutes, and, if necessary, so to amend the same as to secure, without legislation by Congress, to citizens of other States travelling therein, the same protection as citizens of such States enjoy; and also to protect the citizens of other States travelling or sojourning therein against popular violence or illegal summary punishment, without trial in due form of law for imputed crimes.

Resolved, That each State be also respectfully requested to enact such laws as will prevent and punish any attempt whatever in such State to recognize or set on foot the lawless invasion of any other State or Territory.

Resolved, That the President be requested to transmit copies of the foregoing resolutions to the Governors of the several States, with a request that they be communicated to their respective legislatures.

These resolutions were intended and admirably calculated to calm the apprehensions of the people of the slaveholding States as to any disposition on the part of the Federal Government to interfere with slavery, or withhold from them any of their constitutional rights; and in a House controlled by a large Republican majority, they were adopted by a vote of ayes one hundred and thirty-six, noes fifty-three. Not content with this effort to satisfy all just complaints on the part of the Southern States, the same committed reported the following resolution, recommending such an amendment of the Constitution as should put it forever out of the power of the government or people of the United States to interfere with slavery in any of the States:

Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of both Houses concurring), That the following article be proposed to the legislatures of the several States as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which, when ratified by three-fourths of said legislatures, shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as a part of the said Constitution, namely:

Art. 12. No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize, or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State.

This resolution was adopted by a vote of one hundred and thirty-three to sixty-five more than two-thirds in its favor. This closed the action of the House of Representatives at this session on this important subject, though it had previously adopted, by a unanimous vote, the following declaratory resolution:

Resolved, That neither the Federal Government nor the people, or the governments of the non-slaveholding States, have the right to legislate upon or interfere with slavery in any of the slaveholding States in the Union.

The action of the Senate was somewhat modified by the intervening action of a Peace Conference, which assembled at Washington on the 4th of February, in pursuance of a recommendation of the State of Virginia, embodied in resolutions adopted by the General Assembly of that State on the 19th of January. It consisted of delegates, one hundred and thirty-three in number, from twenty-one States none of those which had seceded being represented. John Tyler, of Virginia, was appointed president, and a committee, consisting of one from each State, was appointed, with authority to "report what they may deem right, necessary, and proper, to restore harmony and preserve the Union." On the 15th. of February the committee reported a series of resolutions, in seven sections, which were discussed and amended, one "by one, until the afternoon of the 26th, when the vote was taken upon them as amended, in succession, with the following results:

SECTION 1. In all the present territory of the United States, north of the parallel of thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes of north latitude, involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime, is prohibited. In all the present territory south of that line, the status of persons held to involuntary service or labor, as it now exists, shall not be changed; nor shall any law be passed by Congress or the territorial legislature to hinder or prevent the taking of such persons from any of the States of this Union to said territory, nor to impair the rights arising from said relation; but the same shall be subject to judicial cognizance in the Federal Courts, according to the course of the common law. When any territory north or south of said line, within such boundary as Congress may prescribe, shall contain a population equal to that required for a member of Congress, it shall, if its form of government be -republican, be admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, with or without involuntarj r servitude, as the constitution of such State may provide.

The vote on the adoption of the section was as follows:

AYES. Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee 8.

NOES. Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia 11.

So its adoption was not agreed to.

A reconsideration of this vote was called for by the delegates from Illinois, and agreed to, 14 to 5. On the next day the question was again taken on the adoption of the section, with the following result:

AYES. Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio. Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee 9.

NOES. Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia 8.

Thus the section was adopted.

It was stated by the members from New York, when the State was. called, that one of their number, D. D. Field, was absent, and the delegation was divided. Thus New York, Indiana, and Kansas were divided.

The adoption of the second section was then moved; it was as follows:

SECTION 2. No territory shall be acquired by the United States, except by discovery, and for naval and commercial stations, depots, and transit routes, without a concurrence of the majority of all the Senators from States which allow involuntary servitude, and a majority of all the Senators from States which prohibit that relation; nor shall territory be acquired by treaty, unless the votes of a majority of the Senators from each class of States hereinbefore mentioned be cast as a part of the two-thirds majority necessary to the ratification of such treaty.

The vote on this section was as follows:

AYES. Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia 11.

NOES. Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, North. Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont 8.

New York and Kansas were divided.

The adoption of section three of the report, with the amendments, was next moved. The amended section was as follows:

SECTION 3. Neither the Constitution nor any amendment thereof shall be construed to give Congress power to regulate, abolish, or control, within any State, the relation established or recognized by the laws thereof touching persons held to labor or involuntary service therein, nor to interfere with or abolish involuntary service in the District of Columbia without the consent of Maryland and without the consent of the owners, or making the owners who do not consent just compensation; nor the power to interfere with or prohibit representatives and others from bringing with them to the District of Columbia, retaining, and taking away, persons so held to labor or service; nor the power to interfere with or abolish involuntary service in places under the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States, within those States and Territories where the same is established or recognized; nor the power to prohibit the removal or transportation of persons held to labor or involuntary service in any State or Territory of the United States to any other State or Territory thereof, where it is established or recognized by law or usage; and the right during transportation, by sea or river, of touching at ports, shores, and landings, and of landing in case distress shall exist; but not the right of transit in or through any State or Territory, or of sale or traffic, against the law thereof. Nor shall Congress have power to authorize any higher rate of taxation on persons held to labor or service than on land.

The vote on the adoption of the section was as follows:

AYES. Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey. North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia 12.

NOES. Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont 7.

So the section was adopted. Kansas and New York were divided.

The adoption of the fourth section of the report, as amended, was then moved; it was as follows:

SECTION 4. The third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article of the Constitution shall not be construed to prevent any of the States, by appropriate legislation, and through the action of their judicial and ministerial officers, from enforcing the delivery of fugitives from labor to the person to whom such service or labor is due.

The vote on the adoption of this section was as follows:

AYES. Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia 15.

NOES. Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire 4.

Thus the section was adopted. Kansas and New York were divided.

The adoption of the fifth section of the report, as amended, was then moved; it was as follows:

SECTION 5. The foreign slave-trade is hereby forever prohibited, and it shall be the duty of Congress to pass laws to prevent the importation of slaves, coolies, or persons held to service or labor, into the United States and the Territories from places beyond the limits thereof.

The vote on the adoption of this section resulted as follows:

AYES. Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Kansas 16.

NOES. Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Virginia 5.

The section was thus adopted.

A motion was next made to adopt the sixth section, as amended; it was as follows:

SECTION 6. The first, third, and fifth sections, together with this section of these amendments, and the third paragraph of the second section of the first article of the Constitution, and the third paragraph of the second section of the fourth article thereof, shall not be amended or abolished without the consent of all the States.

The vote on this section was as follows:

AYES. Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Kansas 11.

NOES. Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Vermont, Virginia 9.

New York was divided. So this section was adopted.

The motion was then made to adopt the seventh and last section, as amended: it was as follows:

SECTION 7. Congress shall provide by law that the United States shall pay to the owner the full value of his fugitive from labor, in all cases where the marshal, or other officer whose duty it was to arrest such fugitive, was prevented from doing so by violence or intimidation, from mobs or other riotous assemblages, or when, after arrest, such fugitive was rescued by like violence or intimidation, and the owner thereby deprived of the same; and the acceptance of such payment shall preclude the owner from further claim to such fugitive. Congress shall provide by law for securing to the citizens of each State the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.

The vote on this section was as follows:

AYES. Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Kansas 12.

NOES. Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia 7.

Thus the last section was adopted. New York was divided.

The adoption of the following resolution was then moved by Mr. Franklin, of Pennsylvania:

Resolved, As the sense of this Convention, that the highest political duty of every citizen of the United States is his allegiance to the Federal Government created by the Constitution of the United States, and that no State of this Union has any constitutional right to secede there from, or to absolve the citizens of such State from their allegiance to the Government of the United States.

It was moved to lay the resolution on the table. The vote was as follows:

AYES. Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia 9.

NOES. Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Kansas 12.

Some amendments were then offered and laid on the table, when its indefinite postponement was moved and carried by the following vote:

AYES. Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia 10.

NOES. Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania 7.

New York was divided.

The following preamble was then offered by Mr. Guthrie, and agreed to:

To the Congress of the United States:

The Convention assembled upon the invitation of the State of Virginia to adjust the unhappy differences which now disturb the peace of the Union and threaten its continuance, make known to the Congress of the United States that their body convened in the City of "Washington on the 4th instant, and continued in session until the 27th.

There were in the body, when action was taken upon that which is here submitted, one hundred and thirty-three commissioners, representing the following States: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Khode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas.

They have approved what is herewith submitted, and respectfully request that your honorable body will submit it to conventions in the States as an article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

In the Senate, on the 2d day of March, a communication was received from the President of the Peace Congress, communicating the resolutions thus adopted in that body. They were at once referred to a committee consisting of Messrs. Crittenden, Bigler, Thomson, Seward, and Trumbull. The next day they were reported to the Senate for its adoption, Messrs. Seward and Trumbull, the minority of the Committee, dissenting from the majority, and proposing the adoption of a resolution calling on the legislatures of the States to express their will in regard to calling a Convention for amending the Constitution.

The question then came up on adopting the resolutions of the Peace Conference. Mr. Hunter, of Virginia, moved to substitute the first of Mr. Crittenden' s resolutions for the first of those reported by the committee. Mr. Crittenden opposed it, and urged the adoption of the propositions of the Peace Conference in preference to his own. Mr. Mason, of Virginia, opposed the resolutions of the Peace Conference, on the ground that it would not satisfy the South. Mr. Baker, of Oregon, advocated it. Mr. Green, of Missouri, opposed it, as surrendering every Southern principle, in which he was seconded by Mr. Lane, of Oregon.

At this stage of the proceedings, Mr. Douglas gave a new turn to the form of the proceedings of the Senate, by moving to take up the resolution adopted by the House to amend the Constitution so as to prohibit forever any interference with slavery in the States. This motion was carried. Mr. Pugh moved to amend by substituting for this resolution the resolutions of Mr. Crittenden. This was rejected ayes 14, noes 25. Mr. Brigham, of Michigan, next moved to substitute a resolution against any amendment of the Constitution, and in favor of enforcing the laws. This was rejected ayes 13, noes 25. Mr. Grimes, of Iowa, then moved to substitute the resolution of Messrs. Seward and Trumbull, as the minority of the Select Committee, calling on the State Legislatures to express their will in regard to calling a Convention to amend the Constitution. This was rejected ayes 14, noes 25. The propositions of the Peace Conference were then moved by Mr. Johnson, of Arkansas, and rejected ayes 3, noes 34. Mr. Crittenden' s resolutions were then taken up, and lost by the following vote:

AYES. Messrs. Bayard, Bright, Bigler, Crittenden, Douglas, Gwin, Hunter, Johnson of Tennessee, Kennedy, Lane, Latham, Mason, Nicholson, ""Polk, Pugh, Rice, Sebastian, Thomson, and Wigfall 19.

NOES. Messrs. Anthony, Bingham, Chandler, Clark, Dixon, Doolittle, Durkee, Fessenden, Foote, Foster, Grimes, Harlan, King, Morrill, Sumner, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, "Wade, Wilkinson, and Wilson 20.

The resolutions were thus lost, in consequence of the withdrawal of Senators from the disaffected States. The question was then taken on the House resolution to amend the Constitution so as to prohibit forever any amendment of the Constitution interfering with slavery in any State, and the resolution was adopted by a two-thirds vote ayes 24, nays 12.

This closed the action of Congress upon this important subject. It was strongly Republican in both branches, yet it had done every thing consistent with its sense of justice and fidelity to the Constitution to disarm the apprehensions of the Southern States, and to remove all provocation for their resistance to the incoming Administration. It had given the strongest possible pledge that it had no intention of interfering with slavery in any State, by amending the Constitution so as to make such interference forever impossible. It created governments for three new Territories, Nevada, Dakotah, and Colorado, and passed no law excluding slavery from any one of them. It had severely censured the legislation of some of the Northern States intended to hinder the recovery of fugitives from labor; and in response to its expressed wishes, Rhode Island repealed its laws of that character, and Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin had the subject under consideration, and were ready to take similar action. Yet all this had no effect whatever in changing or checking the secession movement in the Southern States.  


Book Navigation Title Page Preface Illustrations Memorandum Table of Contents   ► Chapter I.   ► Chapter II.   ► Chapter III.   ► Chapter IV.   ► Chapter V.   ► Chapter VI.   ► Chapter VII.   ► Chapter VIII.   ► Chapter IX.   ► Chapter X.   ► Chapter XI.   ► Chapter XII.   ► Chapter XIII.   ► Chapter XIV.   ► Chapter XV.   ► Chapter XVI.   ► Chapter XVII.   ► Chapter XVIII.   ► Chapter XIX.   ► Chapter XX.   ► Chapter XXI. Anecdotes and Reminiscences of President Lincoln.   ► Mr. Lincoln's Sadness   ► His Favorite Poem   ► His Religious Experience   ► His Sympathy   ► His Humor, Shrewdness, and Sentiment   ► The Emancipation Proclamation Appendix. Letters on Sundry Occasions.   ► To Mr. Lodges, of Kentucky   ► To General Hooker   ► To John B. Fry   ► To Governor Magoffin   ► To Count Gasparin   ► The President and General McClellan   ► Warnings Against Assassination Reports, Dispatches, and Proclamations Relating to the Assassination.   ► Secretary Stanton to General Dix   ► The Death-Bed   ► The Assassins   ► Reward Offered by Secretary Stanton   ► Flight of the Assassins   ► The Conspiracy Organized in Canada   ► Booth Killed. Harold Captured   ► Reward Offered by President Johnson   ► The Funeral Official Announcements   ► Acting Secretary Hunger to Minister Adams   ► Acting Secretary Hunter to his Subordinates   ► Orders from Secretary Stanton and General Grant   ► Orders from Secretary "Welles   ► Order from Secretary McCulloch   ► Order from Postmaster-General Dennison   ► Proclamation by President Johnson of a Day of Humiliation and Mourning.   ► Secretary Stanton to Minister Adams   ► Important Letter from J. Wilkes Booth   ► Indictment of the Conspirators   ► The Finding of the Court